Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Shakori Hills Fall fest mixes jam, world and roots

By Nick Frazier

Only a few years after it spun off from its funky, friendly cousin in the lake country of upstate New York, the Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance is set to kick it up this weekend in North Carolina with a stunningly diverse program of blues, alternative country, African dance, bluegrass, zydeco, jam, and even old-timey Appalachian clog dancing.

Headliners in Fall Shakori Hills include Oliver Mtukuzi and the Black Spirits, Preston Frank, The Duhks, The Waybacks, Jim Lauderdale, Big Fat Gap, The Greencards, Mamdou Diabate, and the Ithaca, New York area band that started it all, Donna the Buffalo, maybe selling their famous ‘Herd of ‘Em?’ t-shirts.

The more homegrown performers include The Apple Chill Cloggers, a variety of backyard bluegrass, blues and roots music, as well as a puppet show aimed at “promoting social change, peace and hope for a better world.” As is the norm at Grassroots, the depth and variety of the acts is vast. Many of the roots performers are scheduled for the daytime, which is geared far more towards families and children.

For all the family friendly G-rated fun that is Grassroots during the day, nighttime is the right time to take the kids to bed. After the sun goes down Grassroots transforms from a festival of food, crafts, music, and dance into one, huge, multi-concert party, with most of the stages pounding on into the wee hours of the morning.

The Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance has existed in some form or another for more than 20 years in three locations: The State Theater in Ithaca, NY; the country fairgrounds in Trumansburg NY, and Shakori Hills NC. Being from the area around Ithaca, I’m familiar enough with the original version to know its juicy secrets, and I imagine the southern version has secrets of its own as well.

Donna the Buffalo started the festival more than 20 years ago in Ithaca with a primary focus to assist AIDS awareness and research, and that tradition has continued in Shakori Hills. Even now it is run by volunteers, continues to support AIDs research and remains non-commercial.

In addition to encompassing two yearly gatherings in Shakori Hills and one in Trumansburg, NY, the Festival has added a concert series at the its original home in the State Theater in Ithaca as well.

The festival this year at Shakori Hills is going to be taking place from October 11 to October 15. More to come later this week, live from Shakori Hills NC.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As always, Shakori Hills Grassroots was an experience to remember. Great bands, Good vibe, and Friendly folks. The atmosphere can't be beat. - Amish Tom